Between 1899 and 1922, Bhagavan lived in a variety of caves on the Arunachala hill. The hill abounded in monkeys. Bhagavan would refer to the hill as their kingdom and humans as the intruders. Bhagavan was very intimate with the monkeys. He watched them closely, with love and sympathy. He was a jnani, a sarvajna (the Omniscient). Therefore, the love he had for all beings was natural.
He was a keen observer too. He moved closely with monkeys, understood their cries, their conduct and knew the life story of most of them. He observed that they had their own code of conduct, morals and principles of governance. He found that each tribe had its own recognized district, and if another tribe infringed on this, there would be war. But before starting a war, in order to make peace, an ambassador would be sent from one tribe to the other. Monkeys, as a rule would boycott the one that had been cared for by the humans. However, they made an exception in the case of Bhagavan. He would tell the visitors that the monkeys recognized him as one of their community, and was accepted as an arbitrator in their disputes. Whenever there was a misunderstanding or a quarrel, the monkeys would come to Bhagavan and he would find a solution to pacify them and stop their quarreling. He knew about their way of life, attitudes, priorities and their pranks too!
The people of the town called Bhagavan “Koranguswami” (Master of the monkeys) because, they were aware how much the monkeys respected and accepted him as their own. Bhagavan showed great love and compassion towards the monkeys living on Arunachala.
We have a tendency to look down on monkeys. When we refer to the mind we often compare it to a restless and mischievous monkey. However Bhagavan would always speak positively about monkeys and praise their intelligence and agility.
Bhagavan once remarked:
“I have known something about their organization, their kings, laws, regulations. Everything is so perfect and well-organised. So much intelligence behind it all. I even know that tapas is not unknown to monkeys. A monkey who we used to call ‘Mottaipaiyan’ was once oppressed and ill-treated by a gang. He went away into the forest for a few days, did tapas, acquired strength, and returned. When he came back he sat on a bough and shook it. All the rest of the monkeys, who had previously ill-treated him and of whom he was mortally afraid, were now quaking before him. Yes. I am clear that tapas is well known to monkeys.”
Here are some of the incidents reported by the Ashramites and devotees, which show how lovingly Bhagavan interacted with animals, especially with monkeys that lived on the Arunachala hill and in the Ashram.